The risk of air pollution are more while in traffic

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner


Experts from University of Surrey, United Kingdom, have revealed the attendants problems associated with prolong sitting in traffic jams. It is important to know that the amount of pollution generated while in traffic jams and red light traffic jam is far more than those generated when the vehicle is in motion. The researchers recommended the closure of windows while in traffic jams as a way of preventing and relieving the harmful effects on human health.

The study found that 25 percent of exposure to harmful particles when driving occurs in the 2 percent of the journey time that drivers spend passing through intersections with traffic lights. This finding was published in the Journal of Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified outdoor air pollution as a “major environmental risk to health,” accounting for about 3.7 million premature deaths globally in 2012. Similarly, in 2013, WHO grouped outdoor air pollution in cities as being carcinogenic to humans, smoking has been classified as one since 1985. Air pollution has been found to be responsible for lung cancer, asthma, and other respiratory diseases as well as been associated with heart disease and stroke. All these condition have high mortality rate. In the United States, exposure to particulate matter in the air is the eighth leading cause of death annually while in London; deaths related to air pollution are estimated to be 10 times higher than fatalities caused by road traffic accidents.

According to Dr. Prashant Kumar and his team, when the vehicles slow down, stop and rev up to move when the green light signal comes at various intersection lead to accumulation of pollution which is 29 times higher than those generated when in motion. The team inferred that cars in traffic jams contain about 40 percent more pollution than cars in motion.
It is against this background that the team set to offer a probable solution. The researchers took measurements of particulate matter in a moving car under five different ventilation settings in car that traveled 6 kilometers and passed through 10 different traffic lights with the measurement taken at 3-way and 4-way intersections managed by traffic lights.

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Their findings showed that the car ventilation system was efficient at removing coarse particles from the air, but as the concentration of coarse particles fell, the number of fine particles increased. The highest levels of pollution within the car tended to occur when the windows were closed at the traffic lights and the fan was on.
Just like those in the cars, pedestrians at such intersections were also exposed to some level of pollution, but the level of particulate matter to which motorists were exposed was up to seven times than that experienced by pedestrians. In order to reduce the amount of pollution exposure while waiting in traffic jams and at traffic lights, the authors remarked thus “where possible and with weather conditions allowing, it is one of the best ways to limit your exposure by keeping windows shut, fans turned off and to try and increase the distance between you and the car in front while in traffic jams or stationary at traffic lights” and that “if the fan or heater needs to be on, the best setting would be to have the air re-circulating within the car without drawing in air from outdoors.

Of course improving the efficiency of filtering systems of vehicles in future could further benefit to curtail the on-road exposure in such situations.”
Earlier in 2015, the team had advised drivers on the hazards of pollution at intersections, and also informed them that keeping a distance from the car in front could help to reduce the risk. They also urged pedestrians to use alternate routes to traffic intersections like flyovers.

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